Thursday, 11 April 2013

Koan: Basho's Stick

One day, Basho called a student who was to travel to another monastery into the dokusan room.

"Have you a stick?" he asked.

"No, master," said the student.

"Then I will take it from you," said Basho.

"But I don't have a stick," said the student.

"Ah," said Basho. "In that case, carry it along."

"But…" -- the student looked about, bewildered -- "I don't have one."

"Exactly," said Basho.

"But I'm going away," said the student. "I'll need a stick."

"Indeed you will," said Basho.

"So you should give me one," said the student.

"I have," said Basho.

"But I don't have a stick!" said the student.

"Yes. Good thing I gave it to you," said Basho.

"BUT I DON'T HAVE ONE!" shouted the student.

"I see," said Basho. He considered the matter.

"Alright, you've convinced me. Give me your stick."

"Look," said the student. "I came in here without a stick, right?"


"And you didn't give me one."


"So give me a stick!" the student said.

"Hey, I know!" cried Basho. "Let's trade sticks!"

Wu Ya's commentary: "Third base!!!" 

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson.)
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